View Full Version : .:: Tips & Tricks ::.

12 December 2002, 08:07 AM
Back by dope demand :D

well then, due to another servercrash we lost the initial posting of this thread. but here it is again. there's no backup of it whatsoever, so i guess we all just have to repost those tips and tricks again.

color the tip or trick part of post and please, refer from general chat in this thread. if you want to say hey cool or whatever, pm the poster of the T&T.


   for better readability, please use 'skyblue' as the color for your tip.    

12 December 2002, 04:18 PM
Here's a way to rotate around a specific point.
Right click and save as - flash file - 289kb (

Someone was asking how to make a bent tube and cut these notches out of it.... here's how.
Right click and save as - flash file - 2.3mb (

And here's the famous viewport speed trick
Right click and save as - flash file - 894kb (

p.s. EQ: I know you mentioned those awesome scripts that your friend made... get to it ;)

12 December 2002, 07:06 PM
ah yes, yur right.

easy subobject switch

for easy switching of subobject level this is a really handy tool that appears at mouselocation when used.
available in the download section on my site.

Alternative CamSwitcher

An alternative for max's native camswitcher. the beauty of this one is that it allows ya to switch even when in maximized viewport.
Also comes with a built in lightlist toggle

download below

Equinoxx | Online (

12 December 2002, 04:26 PM
A couple of tips to speed up the workflow :

Don`t use meshmooth just have to use the built in nurms feature of editable poly, and bind a key (space for example) to "NURMS Toggle (Poly)"
This way you can switch in real time from low to hipoly meshes just pressing a key, without the meshsmooth modifier.

Bind the Display Floater to a key , for a quick control of visibility and properties of the elements in your scene...(mine is ctrl-d), and bind to a key even the Light Lister Tool, very handy when the number of lights in your scene becomes dense.

Ciao, Ale

ivan iliev
12 December 2002, 10:24 PM
I repeat my tip from the first edition, because I know, it's realy useful.

When you are working on a complex model, make selection sets of sub-object level(vertex, edge, face...).

If you change your mind later, or have to repair something, this is a handy and sometimes the only way, to navigate in a dense mesh.;)

The image below is an example.

Iain McFadzen
12 December 2002, 10:38 AM
Originally posted by Eklettica

[COLOR=red]Don`t use meshmooth just have to use the built in nurms feature of editable poly, and bind a key (space for example) to "NURMS Toggle (Poly)"
This way you can switch in real time from low to hipoly meshes just pressing a key, without the meshsmooth modifier.

I have a couple of issues with this. First, it's only really useful as a modeling tool since you'll still want the ability to place modifiers before the subdivision if you are planning on animating the object. Secondly "Use Nurms Subdivision" seems to register in the Undo buffer, wheras "show end results" doesn't, and this can be highly irritating when checking a mesh edit.

12 December 2002, 12:01 PM
Iain McFadzen :

Show end result can't be bound to a key, can it ?
By the way,perhaps it's a matter of tastes, but i love to model in low poly and instananeously watch the final subdivided result just pressing a key.It gives me great flexibility and saves a modifier in the stack.

Iain McFadzen
12 December 2002, 12:18 PM
Yeah ShowEndResult can be assigned to a key, but only through maxscript (meshtools comes with such a script though, so it's not like you have to write it yourself).

12 December 2002, 11:32 PM
some simlple tips:

- In render menu (F10). Right-click the Predefined resoloution buttons... now you can define your own.

- Ctrl+click a spinner is = 0

- when text/numbers is selecter inside a spinner. click Ctrl+N for calculator.

Maybe I'll post some more later... can't remember more now...

12 December 2002, 02:36 AM
- Ctrl+click a spinner is = 0
right-clicking a spinner sets the value to zero

- you can align all selected subobjects to zero on a special axis, by right clicking on its spinner in the "transform type-in" window of the "non uniform scale". just select "use transform coordinate center" and set the coordinate system to "world".
if you type in "-100" you can mirror the selection around one axis. usefull for mirroring halfes of creatures or human faces. you just have to flip the normals after scaling

- pressing "i" and holding it down pans the viewport around mousearrow (usefull while drawing splines and building faces)

-ctrl+alt+left mousebutton in the timeline sets startpoint
-ctrl+alt+right mousebutton in the timeline set endpoint
-ctrl+alt+middle mousebutton in the timeline pans the timeline

- if you want to snap to the end of a tape-helper set to a specific lenghts, use a target camera instead. type in a target-distance in the camera menu and snap to the target-pivot.

- if you want to extrude a set of faces who have no neighbor-faces and want to cap the end. just "clone to element" before extruding by holding shift and drag the selection to somewhere. then flip their normals. select the original faces again and extrude. afterwards select the cloned element and snap it back to its origin. then weld all vertices.

12 December 2002, 02:48 AM
i forgot something

this is an addition to the selectionset-tip by ivan iliev

you can use "edit named selections" in subobject mode too. usefull boolean functions like combine, substract and so on.

12 December 2002, 12:42 AM
Originally posted by Eklettica
[B]A couple of tips to speed up the workflow :

Don`t use meshmooth just have to use the built in nurms feature of editable poly, and bind a key (space for example) to "NURMS Toggle (Poly)"
This way you can switch in real time from low to hipoly meshes just pressing a key, without the meshsmooth modifier.

I don't use the built-in meshsmooth especially when working with symmetry. When U apply a meshsmooth before the symmetry modifier, in most cases U will get an ugly looking seam. This also happens when using the meshsmooth calculated during the rendering.

I mapped most viewports to different shortcuts because I usually work only with 1 or 2 VPs open. For example:
ALt+w: Maximize vp
shift+r: right vp
shift+b: back vp

Additionally I map my most commonly used Editable Poly tools - target weld, cut and create polygong - to a shortcut
shift+t: t-weld
cut: alt+c
alt+shift+c: create polygon

For the end result toggle I wrote to custom macroscript I assigned to 2 shortcuts: 1 for off and 1 for on
off: (ctrl+r)

macroScript endResFalse
toolTip:"Show End Result Off"
showEndResult = false

on: (ctrl+t)

macroScript endResTrue
toolTip:"Show End Result On"
showEndResult = true

Perhaps my tips are useful.

12 December 2002, 08:58 PM
A tip for modeling Symmetrical Polygonal+Meshsmooth object like human body & head (Maya style) :

> Start to make the half of the mash
> Soon make a Refrenced copy of the main polygonal cage
> Apply a 'Symmetrical' mod to the new mesh (turn welding on)
> Add a 'MeshSmooth' mod above the LINE & 'Mesh Select' afterward
> Assign a %100 selfilluminated wireframe mat to the main polygonal cage & make it non-renderable
> If you want you can move it away a bit too
> Now continue the modeling on Polycage & see result in Mirrored & Smoothed one instantly with no visual disturbance that 'end show result' would cause.


12 December 2002, 08:54 AM
Tip to speed up viewport playback of animation

Close the material editor to serisouly speed up the playback of your animation in the viewport.
This because max tries to update the material editor with every frame

ivan iliev
12 December 2002, 08:57 PM
By complex models, (again)

Create a spline structure, that contain the most important sections of the object, bind it as a child to the model, then freaze it, to make it unselectable and you will have it always where you do need it

I find it handy, often this is the only way to achieve precision;)
The image below is an illustration from a WIP.


01 January 2003, 06:19 PM
if max doesn't quite run as smooth as it should in OpenGL, try setting windows desktop depth to 16-bit as well as OpenGl bitdepth in your driver prefs. I know, it bites, but is produces a much faster viewport interactivity . . . at least, for me it does . . .

01 January 2003, 03:07 PM
howdy !

I like this kind of threads, and hope i can provide helpfull tips !
this one came back to mind, i must say i don't use it often (i tend to use quad shortcuts for this)

when having a selection set in any sub-object mode, ctrl+left click on another selection icon in modify panel will convert your selection set (say if you have a set of vertices selected, and ctrl + click on faces, your vertices selection will be converted to faces)

then, a couple tips for people like me who tend to spot things late

i've been struggling a while with NU scale before i spotted that values of the on-going scale is displayed on your status bar while you scale

as it can be handy, don't forget that there is a way to "undo scene operation", meaning that you can undo a wrong movement (pan, zoom...) in any viewport (including cameras)

And just a little addition to a tip already submitted:

right-clicking on a spinner brings it to 0, or in other words, brings the spinner to lowest possible value: if you right-click a face count spinner when creating a primitive, spinner will be set back to 1 (and so on for any spinner you can find)

hope these can help some of us : )


01 January 2003, 04:59 PM
not sure if you guys use this but:
The Backspace button will remove lines and verts instead of deleting them like the delete button

02 February 2003, 01:16 PM
dumped a load of stuff I've written in the past on my site, in the education section incl 50 max tips (originally for max3, but most should still apply), plus a load of other gumph...

bit late posting, but it was a long night... :D



03 March 2003, 06:28 AM
On the topic of light setups for modeling heres something that I use often:

Draw a Circle (spline) around your model and centre its piviot to the model.
Set up a three point lighting setup (or whatever suits) and link these lights and any targets to the Circle.
Setup a Manipulator to the value of 360 and wire the Z rot of the Circle to the value of the slider. I think you need a degtorad command in there somewhere.

Now you can scrub you lights right around the model.

Kinda like what you guys are talking about with the camera setup, but this give you a little more control, at least on one axis. Truth is I never thought of tying it to a camera.

03 March 2003, 03:34 AM
I know that it was mentioned to remember that the view orientation has a separate set of undo levels from the real "actions" within the interface, but I think it bears repeating.


I use this constantly as I always work with a single viewport maximized (usually Expert Mode). I'll have the scene oriented in some specific way such that I can make the changes I intend to, but sometimes it's useful to check things out from multiple angles. So I make some transform (for example), then rotate the view any which way I want, stopping, rotating again, etc. Once I'm sure I know what's going on, it's <shift>Z however many times required to get me back to the view I was using for the transform.

This is really, REALLY useful if you're in a situation where Screen coordinates is what you need to use.

Speaking of, experiment with using Screen coordinates, especially for organic shapes. I got into the habit of using it all the time way back in DOS R4, where it was called local coordinates, IRIC.

03 March 2003, 06:19 AM
As for Redo, check in Customize/ Customize User Interface-Redo viewport operation that it is SHIFT + A. Sometimes is Shift + Y.

And a new issue about the script Equinox brough to us:

I donīt know if the script is really necessary to switch between subobject modes. Keys 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 take you to any level in any editing method.

03 March 2003, 06:33 AM
-Select objets and do actions.
+ Ctrl:
-Add or take away object or subobjects from selection
-Takes away object or subobject from selection but doesnīt add.

-Drag & drop to move through the scene (Pan).Use the weel to activate the zoom (intervals).
+ Ctrl:
-Drag and drop to accelerate the Pan tool.
-Rotate the scene acording to your Arc Rotate comand choice (Scene, selected or subobject).
+Ctrl + Alt:
Drag and drop to activate the zoom (smooth and very convenient).
(The central button reserves more surprise that we will keep for another tip).

-Shows different menus acording to the object selected type.
+ Ctrl:
-Shows menu to create some shapes and primitives that can easily be customized in Preference. -With selected object The menu also shows the most common functions to edit it.
Shows a curious menu with different functions very useful. An example is Transform to zero which reset the object to its original position before moves and rotations without usin Undo. It doesnīt reset the scale.
+Ctrl + Alt:
Shows a render menu including radiosity, Quick Render and Shade Viewports.

03 March 2003, 07:04 AM
More on Spinners:
(from discreet's forum)

Let's say a spinner value is 100. Typing r100 for the value will make the vaue 200.

Or, if the value is 100, typing r-25 will make the value 75.

Really handy if you don't want to do the math on big numbers or floating point numbers.


03 March 2003, 02:07 PM
Originally posted by J.Inchusta
-Drag & drop to move through the scene (Pan).Use the weel to activate the zoom (intervals).
+ Ctrl:
-Drag and drop to accelerate the Pan tool.
-Rotate the scene acording to your Arc Rotate comand choice (Scene, selected or subobject).
+Ctrl + Alt:
Drag and drop to activate the zoom (smooth and very convenient).

Hold down Shift too to constrain to axis when rotating. For example:

-Rotate the scene acording to your Arc Rotate comand choice (Scene, selected or subobject), restricted to horizontal/vertical axis.

Shift is a nifty key too ;)

04 April 2003, 01:02 PM
i know one, it's really basic but helpfull for me:

When you move erroniously a selecion (vertex, objects, faces, etc) you can restore to your last position, without release the left button click the rigth button. i use it always

04 April 2003, 09:37 AM
Hi all this is my first post in this forum... :wavey:
Here are some handy things I use very often:

1. When you want to move selected vertices not along axis or plane, but along your mesh faces, you can use snap tool. First, you have to check vertex and face (or edge) checkboxes in Grid And Snap setting dialog. Remember that Use Axis Constraints has to be deselected (because then your vertices will move along selected axis or plane). Now you can select and move vertices which will move exactly on the mesh cage. This is very usefull when you want to regularize cage of your organic model. You can turn on Soft selection to make this method even better!

In max5 you also have a 'constraints' option, which allows you to constrain movement to edge/face.

2. If you want to aling selected vertices (or other sub element) to another sub object element along one axis or plane, turn on Use Axis Constrants on Grid And Snap Settings dialog, choose axis, turn on snap, move mouse pointer above selected vertice (snap cross will appear), then move move pointer to the vertex. Your selected vertex will move only along selected axis. This is very helpfull when you want for example to aling loop of edges along one plane.

3. When navigating through very long rollout on the Command panel (for example when you work with MAX particles, which has a lot of rollouts) Press and hold Ctrl key and use mouse left (or middle) button. This way rollouts will move much faster.

the CTRL has the same functionality in viewport operations and spinners.

4. Make shortcuts for toggling shaded/wireframe viewport, Edged Faces (for shaded viewport), and use these very often.

5. Always use Arc Rotate SubOject for rotating viewport (you can find it in right bottom corner of the MAX interface, yellow icon on rotate flyout). This way you can rotate in big scene around any choosen vertex (of course first you must select an object and enter sub object level to select vertice).

6. List of modifiers (flyout on command panel) is very inconvenient. Better make yourself quad for modifiers you use commonly and make shortcut for it.

7. If your object is rotated so that world axis are incovenient to use. Copy Instance your object and orient the object the way you want. Now you can edit instanced object using world axis and see the results in base object.

Hope my tips are usefull.

04 April 2003, 10:15 AM
Some tips from me...

When finished with modelling and rigging, never use the build in meshsmooth option of Epoly. Use a meshsmooth modifier on top instead, set it the options you want and RC on the modifier to set it "off in viewport". This saves a lot of memory! Even if you have the Epoly set to 0 in viewport

When modelling I use my own "polysmooth" script to enable smoothing. >section maxscripts.

Further I use the symmetry modifier a lot when modelling, try it. (Max5 only)

Cheers Johan

05 May 2003, 03:33 PM
Something that's asked for quite a lot:

Pressing 'O' (default) toggles "degradation override". When this is ON, max will display bounding boxes instead of the actual geometry when panning/rotating a viewport.. In 3dsmax 3 (I think) there's also a button for this in the UI, later versions only have the shortcut key..

Another thing that comes to mind:

You can drag & drop modifiers from the modify panel onto another object in the viewport. Holding CTRL while dropping creates an instance of the dragged modifier(s).

External image files can also be dropped onto objects. This creates a standard material with the image file set as its diffusemap, and it automatically sets it to 'show in viewport'. Can be handy sometimes..

more to come..

05 May 2003, 10:48 PM
dunno if this has been said....i'm just browsing for now.

any way, i like this...

SHIFT - Z : in a viewport, it will undo any zooms, or viewport rotates or pans. quite handy if you want to quickly rotate the view in the ortho views just to check. SHIFT -Z is noce and quick.


05 May 2003, 02:44 AM
This is actually one that I'm excited about.

If you hold ctrl + alt, all three mouse buttons interactively adjust the time slider. LMB adjusts the Start frame, MMB pans the slider, RMB adjusts the end frame.

Why blue? ;)

05 May 2003, 04:31 PM

not sure this has been known for long or what, i just found it myself:

- when you're creating polys in Epoly ("Create" feature), if you press shift you'll see the pointer change and when you shift+left click somewhere you can create a vertex right where you clicked to create your poly from, instead of having to point different vertices that are already there.

Thought it was neat : )


06 June 2003, 04:09 PM
One more on spinners

Press CTRL+N in a spinner value, a calculator will appear :)

06 June 2003, 11:13 AM
Tip on making an Ocean scene

Try and use a Gradient Map if your making an endless ocean scene. Usually the ocean gets Darker or Sometimes Lighter the further away it goes. I usually make the Horizon end the Lightest colour because thats where the Ocean and Sky blend into each other, Faking the Hazy or Foggy look of it.

Hope that Helps.

06 June 2003, 03:43 PM
- when drawing splines, or another operation that doesn't let you get out of the creation mode to pan, use interactive pan: I

- when adding a modifier, you can repeatedly hit its first letter on the keyboard when the rolout list is open to get it.

- learn maxscript :airguitar

06 June 2003, 10:18 PM
Alt X to make selected objects see-through. Very useful when setting up bones in a mesh.

If you are moving something on accident, tap the right mouse button before you release with the left. This will negate the movement (or any click drag command) before it registers.

06 June 2003, 10:37 PM
CTRL+ALT+H for holding a scene (use time to time when you are working with a buggy max or testing something that you guess it will crash!)
CTRL+ALT+F for fetching that scene, whenever! (like next year, if you don't HOLD again during a year or format your HDD!)

06 June 2003, 03:22 PM
- You have one or many animated objects in your scene that use a big modifier stack. You are not working anymore on those objects, but you need to set up other objects animations according to them. You want your scene to be fast when playing.
Then use the "Point Cache" modifier on those objects. It will cache all the animation of the objects vertex, so the stack doesn't need to be recalc on each frame.

- Bind the "save incremental" on the keyboard for exemple CTRL + ALT + S. Use it very often (don't use CRTL + S anymore). When you will have finish your model, re-open each scene, take a screenshot, and make a tutorial :)

06 June 2003, 05:14 PM
edit the gizmo to your liking:

- for the move gizmo, you can show a rectangle in it's center to move the object in parrallel with the viewport (a setting in customise/gizmo's)

- another setting that could be handy is for the scale gizmo: uniform 2-axis scaling

- you can adjust the size of the gizmo with + & -

- In the customise dialogs you can set the relational size of the axis and plane handles.

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